YC startup Felix wants to replace antibiotics with programmable viruses – TechCrunch

Proper now the world is at warfare. However that is no peculiar warfare. It’s a struggle with an organism so small we will solely detect it by means of use of a microscope — and if we don’t cease it, it might kill hundreds of thousands of us within the subsequent a number of a long time. No, I’m not speaking about COVID-19, although that organism is the one on everybody’s thoughts proper now. I’m speaking about antibiotic-resistant micro organism.

You see, greater than 700,000 folks died globally from bacterial infections final 12 months — 35,000 of them within the U.S. If we do nothing, that quantity might develop to 10 million yearly by 2050, based on a United Nations report.

The issue? Antibiotic overuse on the physician’s workplace or in livestock and farming practices. We used numerous medication over time to kill off all of the unhealthy micro organism — however it solely killed off most, not all, of the unhealthy micro organism. And, because the well-known line from Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park goes, “life finds a approach.”

Enter Felix, a biotech startup within the newest Y Combinator batch that thinks it has a novel method to protecting bacterial infections at bay – viruses.

Phage killing micro organism in a petri dish

It appears bizarre in a time of widespread concern over the corona virus to be taking a look at any virus in a great mild however as co-founder Robert McBride explains it, Felix’s key expertise permits him to focus on his virus to particular websites on micro organism. This not solely kills off the unhealthy micro organism however may halt its skill to evolve and as soon as extra change into resistant.

However the concept to make use of a virus to kill off micro organism just isn’t essentially new. Bacteriophages, or viruses that may “infect” micro organism, had been first found by an English researcher in 1915 and commercialized phage remedy started within the U.S. within the 1940’s by means of Eli Lilly and Firm. Proper about then antibiotics got here alongside and Western scientists simply by no means appeared to discover the remedy additional.

Nonetheless, with too few new options being supplied and the usual drug mannequin not working successfully to fight the state of affairs, McBride believes his firm can put phage remedy again on the forefront.

Already Felix has examined its resolution on an preliminary group of 10 folks to exhibit its method.

Felix researcher serving to cystic fibrosis affected person Ella Balasa by means of phage remedy

“We will develop therapies in much less time and for much less cash than conventional antibiotics as a result of we’re concentrating on orphan indications and we already know our remedy can work in people,” McBride advised TechCrunch . “We argue that our method, which re-sensitizes micro organism to conventional antibiotics may very well be a primary line remedy.”

Felix plans to deploy its remedy for bacterial infections in these affected by cystic fibrosis first as these sufferers are likely to require a close to fixed stream of antibiotics to fight lung infections.

The subsequent step will likely be to conduct a small medical trial involving 30 folks, then, because the scientific analysis and growth mannequin tends to go, a bigger human trial earlier than looking for FDA approval. However McBride hopes his viral resolution will show itself out in time to assist the approaching onslaught of antibiotic resistance.

“We all know the antibiotic resistant problem is giant now and is just going to worsen,” McBride stated. “We have now a sublime technological resolution to this problem and we all know our remedy can work. We wish to contribute to a future through which these infections don’t kill greater than 10 million folks a 12 months, a future we will get enthusiastic about.”


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